Archive for April, 2013

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen or Where’s My Title Song?

Posted in Hands On with tags , on April 28, 2013 by Rabidgames

The first thing Rabidgames realised when booting up Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen was the missing “title song” … you know, the one praised here. Instead, you only get the one with female vocals. Interesting now, isn’t it?

Alright, let’s talk about the Bitterblack Isle, the setting where Dark Arisen takes place. It is one massive area full of maze-like caves, mysteries and monsters. Huge monsters. And Death lurking in the shadows. Literally lurking there. And this Death definitely fights in capital letters:

But that’s not the end of it: Imagine having barely defeated a cockatrice, and then, scavengers show up to feast on … well, you. Dark Arisen offers two choices: Fight or run. Sometimes, run wins. Basically, it is more of the same, but if the same was your style in Dragon’s Dogma, you’ll enjoy Dark Arisen, too.

Apart from the battles which are still fun as always, Dark Arisen admittedly takes a step towards Dark Souls: It throws you into an unknown world you know nothing about. There are traps and enemies behind many corners. There’s tons of new gear (and old gear as well) waiting for you (although you have to purify some of it first now). But let’s make no mistake: Dark Arisen is not more Dark Souls than Dragon’s Dogma was – if you imagine meeting the thieves on your way to Witchwood at level 10, you already know that Dragon’s Dogma has always been a rather unforgiving game which likes to punish you. So bear in mind that the gameplay is the same, albeit the world design of the Bitterblack Isle is a bow to the world of Dark Souls; shortcuts, more massive boss fights, mysteries to be solved etc.

However, there are a couple of technical issues: When Rabidgames once died against an insane scavenger ogre who dropkicked the party into oblivion, the game loaded a save 5 hours earlier. If this happens DO NOT SAVE THIS GAME! Exit without saving and try to load your save game. If you’re lucky, it loads to your previous point. If not … you’re screwed. After tons of issues with vanilla Dragon’s Dogma, it pains to see Dark Arisen is stricken with the same problems once more. This proves two things: One, a system which binds you to one save file per account is bullshit, two Capcom does not learn from its mistakes. The result – we have to learn: It’s still best to back-up your saves as often as possible if you want to avoid possibly losing those 259 hours of progress.

One word about the DLC: Yes, it seems all of the Dragon’s Dogma DLC is included, however, it is not free to obtain in-game anymore. With Dark Arisen, you have to walk to the Black Cat and buy everyfuckingthing. If you have a high level character it doesn’tmatter but if you start fresh, it sucks to no end to pay those hefty sums. Dear Capcom, this could have been solved better, don’t you think? By the way, yes, Capcom included all DLC of the vanilla game, but they sneakily included some customisation micro-transaction DLC for 160 MS points. Come on!

Rabidgames looks forward: At the end of the day, Dark Arisen is exactly what an expansion should be like and even more: A new world, the main game plus all DLC for half price (let’s forget the new DLC for a sec, okay?). Well done, Capcom. Sure, there are some minor flaws, but all this profane trifle is forgiven in the depths of Bitterblack Isle.

GTA V and The Epsilon Program

Posted in News with tags , , on April 23, 2013 by Rabidgames

Fuck knows if the latest video about the upcoming open world blockbuster GTA V has been released by anyone from Rockstar, but that’s not important. What we have is an interesting video which shows two things: There will be groundbreaking day and night cycles in GTA V! But even more important, we get to know more about the GTA universe sect “The Epsilon Program“:

Fuck you, creationists! 6.000 years? Hell no, the world is only 157 years old – and that’s a fact! For some reason, the video forgets to mention that any similarities to an existing sect in our universe are not intended.

Rabidgames signs up: Comes GTA V, comes salvation in form of the Epsilon Program! All hail KIFFLOM!

Always Online: Curse or Blessing?

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , on April 21, 2013 by Rabidgames

The likes of EA, Activision and Microsoft won’t ever tire of telling us that “always online” is the future – and sure, they have a point. But there are undeniable problems when “always online” stops being a choice and we HAVE to be always online!

1. Is it possible? Well, it depends where you live. London, New York, Berlin, Sydney, no problems there. But what about villages in the countryside? There are whole areas with slow connections, for example in Germany, where the fastest available speed is DSL1000. And then, let’s talk about broadband in London. At times, it’s horrible: Slowdowns, it’s broken for days etc. Imagine your router breaks down or some somewhere outside cable melts – that’ll mean you won’t be able to use your console for days. Above all that, look at the publishers’ inability to get their stuff working for launch – how the fuck can you be surprised millions want to play your games when it’s called Diablo or Sim City? That’s plain insane! It seems it is not just our infrastructure, but theirs as well.

2. Is it good for us? No, it’s not. We went from expecting a functional game on day 1 to be glad there’s a day 1 patch to make games playable. Microsoft and Sony don’t give a shit about functionality of games released on their platforms anymore. They should send games back to the publishers and tell them “come back when it’s done”. So, no, patches and updates are no good in 99% of all cases. Plus, let’s not forget we can go online now whenever we want. But the decision should be ours when and if we go online with our consoles.

3. Why do they want it then? Besides patches, always online has many advantages whatsoever, but none of them are in the consumers’ interests – unless you like being spied on, being bombarded with personalised ads all the time, or you’re happy you won’t be allowed to resell turds such as Duke Nukem Forever in the future.

4. Why are gamers stupid? Well, that’s a damn good question. We complain a lot – and then we go out to buy the very games we are complaining about. Well played, us.

Rabidgames hopes: Maybe Microsoft will learn from the backlash and the new Xbox won’t work with always online. Maybe. But there’s also the scenario the next Xbox and the PS4 will have some built-in always online “switch” which will be activated at some point in time … after all, what will we do if have purchased the consoles already?

Tons of Infos about Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen

Posted in News with tags , on April 20, 2013 by Rabidgames

The time is nigh to come back to Gransys. The add-on/including the main game Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is already beckoning. And rejoice, Arisens, there will be changes to the original Dragon’s Dogma as well. Quite a few, actually. One guy at the Capcom forums posted quite a few of them:

Player

-Various attacks and skills for all weapons have been rebalanced for all weapons.

Enemies
-Made the Ur-Dragon corpse’s collision boundary smaller so players can now pick up drop items more easily.
-Undead enemies will now come out of the ground with higher defense stats (super armor mode).
-When Saurians die after being knocked down, they will now use a special death animation for when they are on the ground.
-Goblin Shamans will appear in the Witchwood.
-Eliminators will appear on the Tainted Mountain.
-Pyre Saurians will appear on the Tainted Mountain.
-Golden Knights and Silver Knights will appear in the Everfall (before the destruction of Gran Soren).
-Gorecyclopes (condemned type) will appear in the Shadow Fort.
-Living Armor will appear in the Catacombs.
-Wyverns (strong type) will appear at Bluemoon Tower.
-Wyrms (strong type) will appear at the Watergod’s Altar.
-Drakes (strong type) will appear in the Everfall after the destruction of Gran Soren.

Pawns
-Adjusted how often pawns will talk by spacing out less important lines; in effect, making them seem to talk less.
-Adjusted and balanced the equipment and skills of all of the high-level pawns that are available to a player when they’re playing offline.
-Adjusted how much it costs to hire a pawn that is higher-leveled than yourself down to a more realistic scale.
-Added a Monthly ranking to the pawn’s Top Ranked section.

NPCs
-You will not gain Affinity with Assalam simply by talking to him anymore.

Items & Equipment
-Adjusted how much Ferrystones cost and how much they sell for. (Purchase price: 20000 >5000 | Sell price: 3500>1250)
-Adjusted how much Premium Rings and Premium Earrings cost. (Purchase price: 1,500,000>150,000 Rift Crystals | Purchase price 3,000,000>300,000 Rift Crystals)
-Tweaked stat increases for weapon upgrades (increases weaker upgrades, decreases ones that were too strong). Tweaks affect 68 different weapons.
-Dramatically increased base stats for 12 weapons obtainable by defeating the Dragon.
-Improved base stats for 10 Magick Bows

World
-A Portcrystal that allows players to return to Cassardis has been added just outside Cassardis’s gate
-A character/warp point that allows players to travel between Bitterblack Isle and Cassardis has been added to Cassardis’s pier.
-Added a removable Portcrystal to the following areas: The Gran Soren Everfall (before a certain plot point. . . .), The Shadow Fort, The Witchwood, Hillfigure Knoll.

In a nutshell: Better prices, probably some stats nerfed, some improved, more Portcrystals, more enemies. And that’s just in the “old” Dragon’s Dogma … Sounds fair enough, doesn’t it?

There’s also a video showcasing some of the new enemies in Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen:

Furthermore, let’s not forget that there’s a special treat for us Dragon’s Dogma veterans: If we transfer a save file to Dark Arisen, we’ll get the following stuff – for free, of course:

  • 100,000 Rift Crystals
  • unlimited Ferrystones
  • Gransys Armour Pack consisting of six brand new costumes
  • all previous Dragon’s Dogma DLC packs (yes, everything!)

And then, there’s Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen’s new content for everybody:

  • A massive new underground realm to explore featuring over 25 terrifying new enemies
  • More skills/equipment/augments
  • ​Level 3 Skills DD: DA provides each character class with a new tier of skills, giving players new devastating abilities and skills to master
  • Over 100 pieces of new equipment
  • All new high level weapons and armour sets for players venturing into the underground caverns
  • 14 new character/Pawn augments
  • New tiers of equipment enhancement
  • ​Increased character customization options
  • Item appraisal
  • Option to select Japanese voice over

Rabidgames rejoices: Finally, Capcom got it right! For less than 20 pounds, we got an improved version of the main game including all previous DLC (basically a GOTY version if you will) PLUS a massive new expansion with powerful enemies, new skills, new items, and maybe more not revealed yet. If we take into account Capcom’s reputation a year ago (Disc Locked Content etc.), Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen could well become Capcom’s redemption.

The Saboteur or A Nazi Killing Sandbox Gem

Posted in Blast from the past, Revisited with tags , , , on April 14, 2013 by Rabidgames

The Saboteur definitely is an underrated game, probably one of the category “good games you’ve never heard of before”. It’s also Pandemic’s swansong (also responsible for the superb yet flawed Mercenaries games and the insane Destroy all Humans series), just before the real pandemic, EA, killed off this ingenious studio. Beware Bioware, it has happened before, and you might be next in line.

First off all, when you first play The Saboteur, it is not a good game. The control are clumsy, climbing is slow, driving is weird, shooting feels weightlessly, there are some glitches, and the graphics were not exactly well done even for years ago. The German voice acting is sometimes good, but sometimes it is even worse than the awful German in Die Hard (“Schiess das Fenster, Karl” is grammatically wrong on more than just one level). But if you start playing the engaging story, you quickly forget about it.

The Saboteur takes place during World War II in occupied Paris (actually, there’s some geographically twisted surrounding areas of France and then, there’s also Saarbruecken which looks nothing like the real city). Paris looks pretty similar to the real town; there are the typical houses and the contorted roof tops, and there are many of Paris’ attractions to find in the open world.

But that’s not the real charm of The Saboteur. This game has two charms to captivate you: The first one is the black and white (sprinkled with yellow lights and red blood and red nazi flags) setting in occupied areas. This innovative art choice adds immensely to the atmosphere; walk through a dark and rainy grey world and you feel the oppression of body and mind, emphasised by loudspeakers blaring propaganda and fortified checkpoints where nazis just wait to tear you to pieces. It feels good to bring colour back to those areas.

Charm number two is the sandbox aspect: In The Saboteur, you earn contraband (the in-game currency) by destroying thousands of nazi targets, basically like in Just Cause 2. There are also car jump ramps, postcards near monuments and of course, you can also climb the tallest buildings of Paris. Climbing is actually one nice challenge in The Saboteur; if you want to reach the top of, let’s say Notre-Dame, you first have to find the correct spot to climb the first part, then follow to the second one and so on. Thanks to some lights showing you the way, it’s not that hard to find, but sometimes it still involves some turning around and risky jumps. There are also useful perks you unlock during your stay in Paris; from an inconspicuous melee stab to powerful weapons, it’s all there.

But there’s more to the gameplay than just destruction and climbing. If you want to walk around unharmed in restricted areas, it pays off to wear a disguise (yes, this handy element has been imported yet tweaked form the Mercenaries series). Just melee kill one of the bastards and take his clothes. Provided you walk slowly and keep your distance from the real nazis, you can wander around and play the silent killer/place bombs without catching attention – if you play it right.

So the gameplay is fine, what about the story? It’s alright. The Saboteur features a classic B movie narrative; you’re an Irish outcast named Sean Devlin somehow entangled in a love triangle between a grieving French girl and a British spy. Your best friend gets killed by the evil nazi bastard you swear to kill, and on your way there you board huge zeppelins, infiltrate castles and cemeteries or defend your HQ. Side missions are usually on a smaller scale and they are often a bit quirkier. Most missions can actually be played any way YOU like – stealth and cunning or all guns blazing through the front door, the choice is yours most of the time. Oh, and one mission even has a pretty cool Indiana Jones easter egg (just watch the last minutes. By the way, some guards in this mission also talk about one of their aryan pals who’s currently in Nepal …):

From time to time, The Saboteur reminds you of its guerilla theme: Kill too many nazis, and you’ll be relentlessly hunted down by heavily armored squads wielding heavy MGs and flamethrowers, tanks, fighter planes and zeppelins … usually, poor Sean dies pretty fast in open combat. But don’t fret, there are several ways to escape the nazis. Run out of the red circle à la every other game, hide in special spots, fend off a nazi onslaught together with the resistance … or go to a brothel or do this:

As said before, it’s the various technical weaknesses that are holding The Saboteur back. Yes, they shouldn’t have been in there from the start, true, and they are the reason why the game has disappeared in metacritic mediocrity hell.Who knows, maybe they primarily are the results of Pandemic’s demise …

But you learn to work around the issues quickly. The reward is an immersive sandbox adventure where you can take your time watching the attractions of Paris, relaxing in your strip club safe house (moody jazz and half-naked women included) or driving through the countryside inbetween the occasional mission and plenty of blowing up nazi equipment left and right and above.

Rabidgames diligently sabotages: If you liked Just Cause 2 chances are you’ll love The Saboteur. It’s a big playground, there are many toys at your disposal, just go out and have fun. We need more games like these! But The Saboteur is also the Obituary to Pandemic. Way to go, lads.

When Will We Ride To Hell?

Posted in News with tags , , , on April 14, 2013 by Rabidgames

More than a couple of years back, we heard from an upcoming open world biker themed game: Ride to Hell. Then, years of radio silence. But now, the game seems alive and kicking ass – under the name Ride to Hell: Retribution. There’s even a new trailer showing what being part of a biker gang is about – sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and a buckload of violence:

Now, what happened? Where has it been all those years on the road? Why is Ride to Hell back? Maybe it has to do with Sons of Anarchy – releasing a game about a biker gang when there’s a successful series about a biker gang is not too dumb an idea.

Well, what do we know about Ride to Hell: Retribution? Not much. It’s about bikers, the disillusion in the US after the Vietnam war, it’s supposedly set in 1969, and there’ll be plenty of sex, drugs, violence and rock’n’roll. Unfortunately, we know absolutely nothing about gameplay or the gaming world.

And then, there’s also Route to Hell: Route 666. According to the official page, it’s will contain “action packed tactical combat for XBLA and PSN”. Whatever that means …

Rabidgames is wary: 5 years of development limbo, no details known, and yet, an open world game about bikers sounds more interesting than dodgy. Let’s hope the Ride to Hell will be paved with more than just good intentions …

Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall or A DLC Promise?

Posted in News with tags , , on April 12, 2013 by Rabidgames

After finishing Dishonored, we were left hoping for more, weren’t we? More equals story missions, not some score hunt the first DLC Dunwall City Trials. After announcing to shed some light on the story of the mysterious badass and assassin leader Daud, Bethesda gave us this video which shows not only The Knife of Dunwall and his perspective of the murder of the queen, but also introduces some new gameplay elements:

Traps to electrocute enemies, a hidden bow (similar to hidden blades of assassins in another universe), some new moves, and hell,  it even seems we can command assassins in Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall! Bethesda, take Rabidgames’ money already! And there’s more story DLC planned: The Brigmore Witches is set to “conclude Daud’s story”, whatever that means … bear in mind there is a certain decision in Dishonored which has the potential to kind of conclude Daud’s story in a rather final way …

Rabidgames wants: Dishonored was an amazing game, and some story DLC to tell us more about its world is always a welcome addition – especially if we get to see Dunwall with the eyes of Corvo’s most formidable enemy!

WTF Is Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon?

Posted in News with tags , , on April 10, 2013 by Rabidgames

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a mystery. A big one. Ubisoft hints at it here and there, but we know not much about it. But now, we have a video with in-game action. Yes, dragons shooting lasers from their eyes just sounds like a drugged dream, so maybe it is just Jason dreaming he’s a 80’s action star … Anyway, here’s a video showcasing the madness in Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon:

Ubisoft seems to be hellbent on deleting all versions of this video, so watching it could be a race against time.

Rabidgames wonders: Why Far Cry 3 in the title? There seems to be no connection at all. But hey, the video suggests the game is a Saints Row version of Crysis, so that’s a hell yeah!

And the Oscar goes to … Bioshock Infinite

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , on April 4, 2013 by Rabidgames

Obviously, capital SPOILER WARNINGS! About everything, past, future and alternate universes.

In a nutshell, Bioshock Infinite is you talking to yourself beyond space and time. And there are infinite options although not everything is arbitrary. It is hard to grasp the depth and the details of Bioshock Infinite’s narrative just after finishing it; there are infinite possibilities to be discussed, and the plot twists near the end – and the end itself – have the potential to melt brains.

Furthermore, Bioshock Infinite is basically split up into two parts: The first one is about exploring Columbia’s utopia which slowly presents its ugly face – or rather faces. The second part is not about Columbia, it is about the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth, or should we say between Anna and Combstock? In hindsight, the most ironic part of the game is Elizabeth asking Booker who Anna is!

The first part of Bioshock Infinite introduces all important characters respectively the ideologies they represent: Religious delusions (Combstock), capitalism (Fink) and communism (Fitzroy). One of the best moments – worthy of any movie – is the arrival:

It comes to an end when Columbia starts burning, and that’s when Levine’s message shines through: Take an ideology to its extremes and it’ going to end badly. Thanks to the tears and the endless possibilities of infinite universes, we also get a glimpse at the worlds where one ideology triumphs – the most chilling certainly the one with New York burning and the following prophecy becoming true:

“The seed of the prophet shall sit the throne,
and drown in flame the mountains of man.”

The important thing to have in mind is – the variable, which ideology prevails, doesn’t matter. The constant is the destruction which follows, be it Columbia or New York. All paths lead to ruin.

Poor Elizabeth. Imagine thinking you’re someone’s child, his seed. After learning you’re not you eventually find out you are his child after all – although you’re the child of the alternative model of this man. And that’s part two – Elizabeth and Booker learning about their duality, the Lucete “twins” (an ingenious example of variables and constants) guiding them, and Booker learning about the horrible mistakes of his past – the debt to be paid. Speaking of it – it raises the question – whose debt? Booker’s or Lucete’s? Both are looking for redemption, for the mistakes and crimes they and their alternate egos have committed.

Finally, there’s the biggest theme of Bioshock Infinite, introduced early and still well hidden: Baptism. Booker is baptised many times, and more often than he wishes, he drowns. Is baptism and drowning Elizabeth’s way of eliminating all “wrong” Bookers? And then, there are more religious components arising: It becomes obvious why Booker is deemed a false shepherd. Elizabeth’s depiction as a lamb is a clever ruse – haven’t we expected her to sacrifice herself for at least a few seconds?

And moreover, there’s Elizabeth. Not just woven into the story, but the actual character. She is simply amazing. Fuck, she deserves an Oscar for her role in Bioshock Infinite! Irrational Games really developed a believable character you have to like – she is helpful in and outside battle, she is vulnerable so you want to care, and she has an interesting story to tell; plus, her randomly finding things and unpredictable comments really give her a (obviously simulated) personality. There is also some character development going on: From the Disney-like princess locked away in the tower to the frightened girl shocked by human misery to the grim version of her who wants to finish things instead of flying to Paris, she grows constantly. Let’s be honest, Elizabeth is the best AI companion ever – she is more human than Liara or Tali (pun intended). And it’s not just the animations, the voice acting for Elizabeth is absolutely top notch! You want proof? Just watch and listen – this minute perfectly concludes Elizabeth’s feelings when she is forced to look at plight and poverty in Shantytown:

For all that’s great and good in the world of Bioshock Infinite, there are two things Rabidgames is not too fond of. the first one is a simple gameplay complaint: Prior to the ending, right before and right after Our Booker kills Future Booker aka Zachary Comstock, you have to endure an endless assault of grunts and the occasional Patriot … and while the final fight with Songbird at our side is fun, the 30 minutes of skirmish before are just plain boring. Rabidgames was bored to death – luckily, he died in an alternate universe.

The second gripe is Cornelius Slate; here, the plot becomes ridiculously thin – we need some special vigour and we can only get it from him. So Booker and Elizabeth travel to the Hall of Heroes and kill all of Slate’s guys … but why? Maybe Rabidgames is missing some pivotal clue but apart from telling us about the revolting racism and the glorification of genocide in Columbia and from getting the Shock Jockey vigour, nothing worthwhile happens. And who exactly is Cornelius Slate?

And then, there are many more mysteries: Who or what the fucking hell is Songbird? Who was Lady Comstock, and what is her ghost? What are the constants in Bioshock Infinite: We know about heads, we know about Lutece, we know about Elizabeth in the tower and Booker freeing her – but is that it?  There are connections to Rapture – why can Booker use the bathysphere? Well, it is time for a second playthrough of Bioshock Infinite it seems …

Rabidgames relaxes: There will be more to discuss for sure, but for now, Rabidgames is finished. Bioshock Infinite complete, brain molten. And this time, the ending is satisfying, it works. There might be some plot holes, there might be open questions, but if you skim through forums or gaming sites, there is no talk about entitlement or artistic integrity, there is constructive talk about what happened and why. Bioshock Infinite has done a great job – not only for 2K and Take Two, but also for real artistic integrity and it is living proof that games can be art. If only more companies dared to leave the beaten path …